Community Outreach Summer Fellowship

This paid summer training program provides a small group of rising Williams sophomores and juniors, with priority given to rising sophomores, training in key skills, and the opportunity to help build better community service and experiential learning opportunities at Williams. The 8-week, 35-hour/week position reports to the CLiA Director and includes on-campus housing.  The 2023 program will run from June 13th – August 4th, 2023.

Responsibilities include:

  • Participation in orientation and training sessions
  • Working on a group creative project and a 4-week individual project with a community organization
  • Assisting in the review and improvement of community outreach programming and partnerships

Qualifications:

We look for highly motivated students with a strong work ethic, strong interpersonal skills, and the ability to work independently. Familiarity with (or willingness to learn) Microsoft Excel, Google Drive, and WordPress is also desirable. The program also provides basic training in videography, web design, and graphic arts.

Application: 

To apply, submit the online application form by Sunday, April 2nd, 2023 at 11:59pm. For more information, drop in on one of CLiA’s weekly Open Office Hours (Thursdays, 11:30am – 1pm in Paresky) or email CLiA Director Dr. Paula Consolini ([email protected]).

Results:

Past Community Outreach Fellow teams have created music video public service announcements, training videos, and podcasts. Individual projects have included designing community events, developing websites and social media strategies for community initiatives, creating K-12 curriculum modules, and helping develop mobile phone apps.

Our most recent Community Outreach Fellows are featured below. For more information about previous years’ Fellows, please visit our Past Fellows page.

Summer 2022

(Click the students’ names to learn more about their work… coming soon!)

  • As a first-year student at Williams, I had barely ventured out of "Billsville" to other cities in Berkshire County; perhaps the occasional trip to North Adams, or a one-time drive down to Pittsfield (to return home to New York). I had always admired the beauty of the county: the rolling hills, dashing rivers, and sprawling forests were certainly a change from the urban environment of New York. But I can't say I had ever involved myself in the county’s affairs during my first year, much less actually ventured out into it. And so, this summer, through the wonderful opportunity that the Summer Outreach Fellowship presented, I made it a great mission to escape the "Purple Bubble". 

    During the summer, I worked primarily as an Economic Development intern at the Berkshire Regional Planning Commission (BRPC) -- the county's "public-option" consulting/planning firm. I had worked as a municipal employee, assisting in revamping the City of North Adams' business permitting guide, while also working to redesign the process in which a potential business owner might go about setting that up. Furthermore, with the BRPC, I assisted in setting up ArtWeek: a ten-day festival in September that features artistic events and displays from all over Berkshire County, ranging from a variety of backgrounds and talents. Through my work at the BRPC, I was able to immerse myself in the county’s affairs, and actually understand the issues and effort that goes into managing local government here in Berkshire County. I spent a lot of time visiting all over the Berkshires, while also meeting with local officials and citizens. 

    In addition, I also started working with the Town of Adams to film a documentary on the ecotourism project known as Greylock Glen. Greylock Glen is located on a beautiful hill above the Town of Adams, tucked right behind Mount Greylock. It is a state funded project that consists of an environment center, with shops, conference rooms, and a focus on ecological education. The project has just started breaking ground, and in coordination with Adams, I will be filming the progress on the project over the course of the next year. The end goal is to produce a documentary on the project, that seeks to convey its applicability for the local community, and feature interviews, drone shots, and general filming that will truly showcase the beauty of this great endeavor. 

    Throughout the summer, I had managed to immerse myself in Berkshire County, both from a work standpoint, as well as a personal standpoint; I spent many hours hiking, biking, and swimming, in the many trails, paths, and rivers of the Berkshires. I have also just started to involve myself in several political campaigns for local government here. I am so thankful for the opportunities that the fellowship gave me, and I am excited to continue working with Paula and CLiA in the future, as well as further involving myself in Berkshire County!

    • Video:
  • My name is Brandi Carr and I am a rising senior. While majoring in English and concentrating in Global Studies I have combined my passions for writing, analytical thinking, communications, and promoting homeownership alongside my admiration for different cultures, lived experiences, and perspectives. A little bit about myself? Well, I grew up in Houston, Texas, but my family is from Michigan. I enjoy writing, reading, and learning about the world around me. Furthermore, I came to Williams College in the Fall of 2017 and I am an aspiring legal student. I will be applying to law schools in the fall of my senior year. Explicitly, I hope to become a criminal prosecutor and eventually progress towards being an assistant district attorney. Moreover, within the legal field, I am also curious about International Law, Human Rights Law, and Criminal Defense. So as you can see, I have an inclination towards the bureaucratic ways in which organizations are run. I love working with stabilizing structures in people's lives and for me—that means the law. Following these trends, I have a long-standing interest in working with nonprofits and charitable organizations in a legal capacity. To be sure, my experience at Williams College has given me ample time and opportunity to pursue my interests in law/nonprofit work.

    I wanted to join the Center for Learning in Action this summer in order to familiarize myself with local nonprofits in the Berkshire Community. Markedly, for this period of time, the other fellows and I worked on a Public Service Announcement for Bee Friendly Williamstown where we filmed bees and other pollinators performing their important work in local lawns and gardens. Bee Friendly Williamstown is a local nonprofit organization aimed at convincing homeowners to refrain from mowing their lawns in order to help pollinators. Our videos were even featured in the local Williamstown theater to the delight of my teammates and I.

    Likewise, for my specialty project, and circling back to my passion for solidifying homeownership, I collaborated with the Weatherization Remediation Assistance Program (WRAP) which is an offshoot of the Berkshire Community Action Council, Inc. BCAC, as it is called, aims to assist low-income residents of Berkshire County achieve sustainability and self-sufficiency. Equally, WRAP focuses on helping homeowners afford the necessary weatherization fortifications helping the most vulnerable stay in their homes. Namely, with BCAC, I created a flyer and corresponding infographic which outlined how vital it is for local Berkshire homes to be weatherized and fortified against tumultuous environmental conditions. I had lots of fun designing and creating informational graphics, and I loved the aftereffects—knowing that I contributed to the betterment of Berkshire County!

  • I applied to become a Summer Fellow not really knowing what to expect from an open-ended internship whose goal was simply to "understand and address the needs of the local community" and foster "community engagement." My interest in politics and philosophy had always pointed me in the direction of community work as a way to foster change, but my previous engagement had always been more disorganized and low-level; after awhile I became disengaged and retreated into a more "armchair philosopher" role, willing to criticize and challenge contemporary ideas and issues, but not having the will—nor experience—to effectively put my vision into action. The CLiA Summer Fellowship didn't provide the spark that drove my community engagement, but it did give the structure. We were invited to community meetings across the Berkshires and were essentially given a roadmap, learning about the issues that affect us here at the local level along with the people and institutions already in place to help address them.

    My first project involved working with Bee Friendly, a local non-profit focused on non-traditional, sustainable lawns, using video training we received early in the Summer to create a PSA  advertising the group to our local community. Through cooperation with my fellow co-workers, we recorded footage, conducted interviews, and edited together the minute-long video, airing it at Images. While each individual step wasn't difficult, having to organize a project from start to finish with multiple moving parts gave me insight into how community work really happens: with constant bargaining, strong communication, and a willingness to wait your turn and listen to groups that have been in the fight for far longer than any of us have.

    My specialty project consisted of creating a science curriculum for children at the Tyler Street Lab and Mohawk Forest Apartments, becoming a mentor for children from lower income backgrounds and getting them excited about learning. I worked with a fellow co-worker and friend, traveling to Pittsfield and North Adams to build robotic kits with children and having fun and connecting with them in a variety of ways (basketball was pretty popular).

    I also had the space and opportunity to engage with the Berkshires in my own way, outside of the CLiA program. I got involved in local and state politics through campaign work, and had the privilege to meet politicians and campaign workers from across the state to see what involvement in local politics looks like at the ground level. Paula was an excellent mentor, helping me meet the right people to build upon my interest in local politics and encouraging me to explore community engagement from a perspective that personally excited me—a level of personally tailored freedom I wasn't expecting from a Williams program. I had the opportunity to meet former AG and Democratic nominee for governor of Massachussets Maura Healey, labor attorney and candidate for Massachussets AG Shannon Liss-Riordan, Former Representative and State Senator Paul Mark, and former State Senator and candidate for Lieutenant Governor Adam Hinds just to name a few—along with their respective staff and volunteers. I had the opportunity to work on Shannon's and Paul Mark's campaign as well, learning the tools of political organizing and getting a feel for the political landscape of the Berkshires. I also had the time and support to develop infrastructure for Williams College Democrats, working on posters and making local connections to help lead the club next year.

    Overall, the CLiA Summer Fellowship is what you make of it, and (once you finish the trainings) you will have ample time to devote to work, friendships, and the many hidden opportunities that lurk around Williams but that, during the year, you never have a chance to take advantage of. I'm looking forward to continuing to work with Paula, CLiA, and the many other wonderful people I met this summer in the future, and am grateful to know that the memories and skills I gained up this summer will remain with me for life.

  • I am Frances Leung, class of 2025, majoring in American Studies on the Comparative Race & Ethnic Studies track. As someone with a background in racial and social justice, I am very passionate about working with marginalized populations often neglected by institutional systems of power: working with undocumented immigrants to apply for refugee status, developing racial justice and political education programs for Asian American youth of color across NYC, organizing pan-racial city-wide workshops and conferences addressing anti-Blackness, tutoring incarcerated folks at the Berkshire County Jail, interning with the only Asian American woman in the NYS Assembly to address the needs of elderly Asian immigrant families, and working to develop an Asian American Studies program at Williams College. As such, I wanted to apply these frameworks of power, neglect, and marginalization that I have learned in American Studies as well as my own organizing background by looking more closely at the populations neglected in the Berkshires this summer during my fellowship with CLiA.

    In this line of pursuit, building on CLiA's expansive relationships with community partners around the Berkshires, I have embarked on two specialty projects this summer: 1) serving as a research consultant intern for the newly-reopened reentry program Second Street Second Chances (SSSC), and 2) developing a racial justice curriculum for high school youth of color in Pittsfield to encourage dialogue around the experiences of living as minoritized youth in the Berkshires.

    Having worked with CLiA during the school year tutoring at the Berkshire County Jail and having worked with NYC legislative office on prison abolition, it was interesting to shift my focus from working with folks currently incarcerated to working with folks who have already been incarcerated and are now struggling to attain basic survival needs post-incarceration. Learning more about how having a criminal record can exclude folks from applying for government assistance programs (thus rendering basic survival needs more inaccessible), I developed a greater passion for criminal justice—especially when many of the currently/recently incarcerated folks I've talked to have families and children they care and need to provide for, are veterans with PTSD, face untreated mental health issues, and more. Researching and learning from other reentry transition houses, nonprofits that offer therapeutic and family-oriented services, and other programs that focus on providing financially accessible food/clothing/housing for incarcerated populations, I was surprised to see the large number of people and organizations in Massachusetts already working to address the institutional neglect incarcerated populations face. In specific, I have really been interested in programs that are both cost-effective and also have multifaceted purposes: for example, the Father/Child Homework Assistance Program not only fosters familial-relationship building, but is also educational for both the child and the father. While tutoring high school math at the Berkshire County Jail, I found that even brushing up on basic math skills can be really helpful for folks in applying it to work skills, as well as just building up personal self-esteem—acting as a personal step in reclaiming personal autonomy. Through my research, I learned more about and from other reentry programs in Massachusetts, finding the value in passing down generational and institutional knowledge. Rather than speculating and repeating mistakes made by other reentry programs, I found that there is a lot of learning we can gather from a more interdependent,
    community-oriented approach where we notice what has worked for other organizations, learn from how they may have financially sustained their organization (or not), and host dialogues with recently unincarcerated populations regarding what resources they actually need and what additional community spaces they actually want. As such, we can genuinely move forward in building a community of care for currently/once incarcerated folks as opposed to trodding down the same failed paths again and again.

    As someone who was very heavily involved in racial justice movements and organizations in a very diverse city, it was jarring to attend college in the Berkshires, especially in Williamstown—which as of 2019, had a median household income 23% greater than the national median, had 0% of households speak a non-English language at home as their primary language, and has a population where three-quarters of all residents are non-Hispanic and white. As such, I—along with many other lower-income students of color at Williams—began developing a view of the Berkshires as a  very wealthy community riddled with vacation homes, affluent connections, and generational wealth. Hearing about the demand for a racial justice curriculum from youth of color in Pittsfield, however, opened my eyes to the more diverse experiences within the Berkshires. In fact, submitting to and perpetuating the stereotype that everyone that lives in the Berkshires comes from a background of significant generational wealth actually only reiterates the institutional and cultural neglect that lower-income populations in the Berkshires face. As such, I have been really enjoying adapting the racial justice and political education curriculums that I have developed before for NYC youth to youth that live in Pittsfield. Observing, listening, and empathizing more with the different surroundings and environment in the Berkshires, I have found it really fulfilling to partner with other racial justice organizers in the area, learning from their various experiences and backgrounds, to develop a program that seeks to articulate the minoritized experiences of youth in Pittsfield. In developing this curriculum, I realized how important it is to have programs like this: programs built by community members for community members. Addressing and processing our racialized experiences—especially as youth of color—is difficult, disheartening, and possibly traumatizing, but simply because it is difficult does not mean it is not important. Instead of forcing young kids of color to embark and process these experiences by themselves, this program serves as a therapeutic affinity space to foster togetherness, providing the comforting community, resources, and necessary mentors to help guide youth of color as well as find the right language and vocabulary to articulate our feelings, emotion, and experiences.

  • My name is Dania Taki and I am a rising junior majoring in Anthropology and concentrating in Arabic. I transferred to Williams from community college in San Diego. As a community organizer back home, I was especially excited about the possibility of contributing to my new community.

    I loved working with CLiA this summer, which allowed me to engage and learn about the different communities in the Berkshires. In this way, I explored how the Williams community can make change and contribute to addressing needs beyond the purple bubble. I saw how directly engaging with the community is key to building longitudinal relationships, and by doing that, impactful change happens.

    Also, I discovered that there is no greater way to learn about a community and its values than to seek out opportunities to become a direct participant. As an aspiring anthropologist, CLiA was a wonderful opportunity to integrate different anthropological methods to understand and contribute to the Berkshires simultaneously. I am excited to put all that I have learned into action soon.

    Many thanks to Paula, Colin, and Ash for their incredible support. I am grateful to you all!

    • Video:
  • My name is David Yoo, age 20 (I know, pretty old, right?), male with he/him pronouns, and, before this program, severely lacking in knowledge of anything about Williams outside of certain classrooms, the dining halls, and my dorm building. I am barely acquainted with the people in the room 5 feet away from me, let alone with all that the Berkshires have to offer. As a way of improving my awareness of the Williams community, CLiA's Community Outreach Summer Fellowship program felt like a good opportunity to explore not just Williams College, but Berkshire County and what it has to offer. After the past 7 weeks, I can say that I was glad to attend this program and learn more about the Berkshires and the people in it.

    While learning about the various non-profit organizations within and nearby the Williams campus, as well as participating in various festivals and events, I was able to interact with this  community in more ways than I would have without this program. Paula, Colin, Ash, and everyone that I met over the course of the program helped me learn more about the community, and even some ways that I can help to contribute back.

    We learned new skills like making zines and editing videos, as well as refined other skills like poster making and presenting information to others. This all led to the independent projects, where some important skills could be practiced: leadership and organization. My project is planning a small yet fun event at the Harper Center run by the Williams Council of Aging. This event will be a Disney Sing-Along featuring the Aristocows, Williams only Disney-Acapella group. To me, music is a way of not only expressing oneself, but also a way of being able to experience different perspectives and points of view, all while connecting different people and communities. This is something that really resonates with me, especially after joining this CLiA Fellowship.

    Thank you Paula and CLiA for this great program and opportunity. I highly recommend it to those that want to broaden their Williams experience, and to the other shut-ins that want to see more of what this community has to offer.